New Haven woman stuck in St. Maarten describes experience during Hurricane Irma

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(WTNH) — A New Haven woman is lucky to be alive.

She’s vacationing in St. Maarten and rode out the devastating Category 5 Hurricane Irma barricaded in a bathroom with five of her friends.

Her mother, here in New Haven was terrified as it all played out.

News 8 spoke with them on Thursday. They credit the power of prayer in getting through the historic storm.

The catastrophic Hurricane Irma hammered St. Maarten. This was not the dream vacation that Shandrea Pittman has planned.

The New Haven native was barricaded in the bathroom of her villa with five of her girlfriends for 19 hours.

“We couldn’t breathe. We took turns taking just cracking the door to get some air, limit air flow, food, water, bread, peanut butter.”

News 8 spoke with her over Facetime about the terrifying ordeal.

“I stuck my arm out the door to record the villa. We didn’t know what was going on or how bad it was damaged.”

Her fifth floor villa in the path of destruction, heavy furniture and debris trapped her and her friends in that small bathroom space.

Her mom back here in New Haven was terrified, unable to hear a word about their safety.

Shandrea went to St. Maarten last Friday on a girls trip to celebrate her 33rd birthday. Her mother was getting photos, but then Irma approached. There were no flights out to be had. She knew her daughter would be in the eye of the storm.

“Feeling helpless, like there was nothing I could do.”

Sandra Pittman heard from her daughter for the first time on Wednesday night.

“They had to hold the door, but I tell you, my daughter and her friends, they started praying at 5 a.m. until 11 a.m. and prayed again until 11 p.m. that night until they couldn’t talk anymore.”

This mom and daughter are now connected with power back in St. Maarten. But the trouble now is that the airport is destroyed and it’s unknown when Shandrea will be able to get back home, but that mystery is overpowered by gratitude.

They were finally rescued from that bathroom by firefighters who couldn’t believe they were alive.

“They said they don’t know how we survived in that villa and in that bathroom for that many hours.”

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